Tennessee Titans (Last Year: 9-7)
2020 NFL Season Preview:
OT Ty Sambrailo, DE Jack Crawford, DE/OLB Vic Beasley, LB Nick Dzubnar, CB Johnathan Joseph.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Isaiah Wilson, CB Kristian Fulton, RB Darrynton Evans. Titans Rookie Forecast
QB Marcus Mariota, RB Dion Lewis, TE Delanie Walker, OT Jack Conklin, DT Jurrell Casey, DE/OLB Cameron Wake, LB Wesley Woodyard, CB Logan Ryan, CB Tramaine Brock, CB Tye Smith, K Ryan Succop.
2020 Tennessee Titans Offense:
If anyone were to say that Ryan Tannehill would not only unseat Marcus Mariota last year, but also take the Titans to the AFC Championship, they would've been committed to a mental health facility. And yet, that's exactly what happened, as Tennessee upset both the Patriots and Ravens, and then held a lead at Kansas City before Patrick Mahomes took over the game.
Tannehill played well, but he was more of a game manager than anything. The Titans were able to dominate the opposition by bullying them in the trenches and having Derrick Henry trample over the defense. Henry was tremendous, leading the league in rushing with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. The 250-pound running back is an imposing presence, and he's only 26, so there's a chance he could continue to demolish helpless defenses.
That said, there are a couple of reasons to believe why this plan won't work as well in 2020. First, Henry shouldered nearly 400 touches last year, including the playoffs. That's an extremely high number, and there's a dubious history of running backs having success after handling the ball that many times. Second, the Titans lost one of their top offensive linemen, Jack Conklin. They used their first-round pick on replacement Isaiah Wilson, but there's no guarantee he'll even start right away. It's very unlikely that Wilson will be as good as Conklin, but his strength is run blocking, so that should help.
Excluding the Conklin-to-Wilson switch, Tennessee's offensive line will remain intact. Guard Rodger Saffold was a great addition from last year, as he and Taylor Lewan were both tremendous on the left side. Center Ben Jones also performed well, though right guard Nate Davis was a major liability.
Unless the Titans get terrible play from right tackle, they should be able to hold up well for Tannehill. That's great news for the receivers, particularly A.J. Brown, who had a tremendous rookie campaign. Brown has the potential to make a big leap in 2020, and quite frankly, it would be surprising if he didn't do so. The same can't be said for Corey Davis, who has been a disappointment as a former first-round pick. Slot receiver Adam Humphries and tight end Jonnu Smith will be reliable targets for Tannehill.
2020 Tennessee Titans Defense:
Jack Conklin wasn't the only major departure the Titans had in the trenches. They also lost Jurrell Casey in a trade to the Broncos. Casey is on the wrong side of 30, but he was still one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL. He'll sorely be missed.
That said, the Titans have a young defensive lineman who can dominate opposing offensive lines in Jeffery Simmons. It seemed as though the dynamic Mississippi State talent wouldn't be able to play last year because of an injury, but he returned in the middle of the season and helped Casey beat up blockers. Tennessee's defensive line obviously won't be as good without Casey, but Simmons' expected improvement will lighten the blow of the Casey loss.
Simmons will start along with Da'Quan Jones and potentially Jack Crawford. Jones is stout run defender, while Crawford doesn't do anything well. The Titans spent a fifth-round pick on Larrell Murchison to potentially unseat him.
While it wasn't expected that the Titans would lose Casey this offseason, it was predicted that they'd address their edge rush with Cameron Wake leaving the team. That, however, didn't happen, aside from the signing of Vic Beasley. The former Falcon had a nice start to his career, but has declined every season since. It's unlikely that he'll be the answer, so Tennessee will need third-year Harold Landry to make a leap in production.
The Titans also lost a player at cornerback, as Logan Ryan is no longer on the team. Tennessee added a questionable player to fill his spot, using a second-round choice on Kristian Fulton. The LSU product was constantly torched last year, however, so his projection to the NFL is dubious. It's likely that Tennessee will have to keep starting Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler. Jackson is an excellent cornerback, but Butler has struggled with consistency ever since leaving New England.
The good news for the Titans and their secondary is that they have one of the top safeties in the NFL, Kevin Byard. He's young enough to keep improving, though the same thing can't be said of the other safety, Kenny Vaccaro, who is a mediocre player.
Rounding out the defense, Tennessee will once again start Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans. Brown and Evans can project as a solid duo, but the latter will have to improve upon what was a disappointing 2019 campaign.
2020 Tennessee Titans Schedule and Intangibles:
Kicker Ryan Succop struggled off injury last year, so the Titans replaced him with Greg Joseph, who missed four extra points in 2018.
Punter Brett Kern was 27th in net average in 2016. He improved all the way up to first in that category in 2017. He finished eighth the following year and fourth in 2019.
No touchdowns were scored for or against Tennessee on special teams, but the squad was outgained on both punts and kickoffs.
Things will be difficult for the Titans to begin the year, as they have to go up against the Broncos (road), Vikings (road), Steelers, Bills and Texans. It'll be easier in the middle of the year, but four of their final six games are on the road.
2020 Tennessee Titans Rookies:
Go here for the Titans Rookie Forecast
, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2020 Tennessee Titans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2020 Tennessee Titans Analysis:
The Titans have somehow finished 9-7 in each of the past four seasons. Can they make it five in a row? It'll be close, as Tennessee has a solid squad, but lost enough key players that it likely won't go as deep in the playoffs once again. The Titans seem like they're right on the cusp of being a postseason team again, but may not quite get there. Another 9-7 season sounds about right.
9-7 (2nd in AFC South)
2019 Projection: 7-9. 2019 Actual Result: 9-7.
2018 Projection: 7-9. 2018 Actual Result: 9-7.
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 6-10. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.
NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade
Goals Entering the 2020 NFL Draft: Tennessee made an unexpected run to the AFC Championship, but things will be much more difficult in 2020. The Titans won by bullying their opponents in the trenches, but with Jack Conklin and Jurrell Casey gone, they won't be as imposing on the offensive and defensive lines. Tennessee needs to make sure it replaces those key free agents, while also adding some talent to the offense.
2020 NFL Draft Accomplishments: We were all shocked by what occurred in Mike Vrabel's household during the draft, but Tennessee's draft plans were far more predictable. It was the least-surprising thing in the world to see the team use its first-round choice on a blocker. Isaiah Wilson is a massive lineman, but isn't limited athletically. He should be able to take over at right tackle at some point in the near future as a replacement for Jack Conklin.
The Titans also addressed their defensive line, albeit in Round 5. Still, they were able to get a nice value in Larrell Murchison. In between, the Titans addressed needs at cornerback and running back with Kristian Fulton and Darrynton Evans, respectively. Fulton was my least-favorite addition, as he was frequently torched last year. Still, the "C" the Titans were slapped with for him was the worst grade they received all weekend.
Tennessee didn't have a spectacular or sex draft by any means, but this rock-solid haul was emblematic of the values this franchise holds.
NFL Draft Individual Grades:
29. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia - B Grade
This is a rock solid pick by the Titans. It's also not surprising in the slightest. The Titans love to bully teams in the trenches, and that was going to be difficult with Jack Conklin gone. Wilson, who has good athleticism at his massive size, should be able to challenge Dennis Kelly for the starting right tackle spot as a rookie.
61. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU - C Grade
I don't know why everyone was wondering about Kristian Fulton falling in the draft. I considered Fulton to be a third-round prospect. I don't think he ever cracked the second round in any of my updates, so this is a slight reach. Fulton was torched routinely last year, and I imagine Deshaun Watson is licking his chops. Still, there's a bit of upside here, as Fulton might improve if he gets over all of his injuries.
93. Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State - B+ Grade
Dion Lewis is gone, so the Titans needed to find some help at running back, especially given how much of a workload Derrick Henry handled last year. History says Henry will probably break down soon, so the Titans needed a good insurance policy to take over when that happens. Evans is a solid choice at this juncture.
174. Larrell Murchison, DT, N.C. State - B+ Grade
It can't be a surprise that Mike Vrabel drafted someone who will help him bully other teams around in the trenches. Murchison can get to the quarterback well, so he'll be able to play passing downs for the Titans. I had him a bit earlier than this, so I like this pick.
224. Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii - B Grade
Cole McDonald is a smart quarterback, so if he sticks in the NFL, he'll be a nice backup who will be beneficial in the meeting room. However, his arm strength is horrible, so he may just become a coach.
243. Chris Jackson, S, Marshall - C Grade
I didn't have Chris Jackson in my top 600. He's a UDFA player, obviously, but we're getting near the end of the draft, so it's not terrible to take someone like this.
The Titans made a quarterbacking change in an ugly loss to the Broncos. This sparked them in the second half of the year, as they continued to win with Ryan Tannehill at the helm. They eventually reached the AFC Championship, but they simply couldn't keep pace with Patrick Mahomes.
Titans sign DE/DT Jack Crawford
Titans sign OT Ty Sambrailo
Titans sign LB Nick Dzubnar
Broncos acquire DT Jurrell Casey from Titans
Titans sign DE/OLB Vic Beasley
- Edge Rusher: Tennessee's inability to put pressure on Patrick Mahomes killed their chances in the AFC Championship. Cameron Wake was missed. He'll need to be replaced. Signed Vic Beasley
- Cornerback: Speaking of Mahomes, he easily torched the Titans' secondary. This wasn't a surprise, as Tennessee was weak to passing attacks all year.
- Defensive Tackle: The Titans traded Jurrell Casey for nothing, so they'll need to replace him.
- Guard: The Titans have a great offensive line, but they have a glaring hole at one of the guard spots that they should find a way to fill.
- Wide Receiver: Corey Davis has been a major disappointment thus far, so the Titans will have to think about adding a better receiver to play across from the emerging A.J. Brown.
- Right Tackle: Derrick Henry is great, but a major reason for his success was the offensive line. Jack Conklin is an impending free agent, so he'll need to be retained. Re-signed Dennis Kelly; signed Ty Sambrailo
- Running Back: Speaking of Henry, he'll need to be re-signed as well. Franchised Derrick Henry
- Quarterback: The Titans will need to find a young quarterback to groom behind Ryan Tannehill, but Tannehill can keep starting in the meantime, assuming he's re-signed. Re-signed Ryan Tannehill
- Offensive Tackle Depth: Dennis Kelly has been one of the top backup swing tackles in the NFL, but his contract is set to expire.
Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
2020 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Falcons. Age: 28.
Signed with Titans (1 year, $9.5 million)
Vic Beasley got off to a nice start in his career, but he struggled in recent seasons. However, he logged four sacks in his final four games, which gives him some hope.
- Ty Sambrailo, OT, Falcons. Age: 28. -- Signed with Titans
- Jack Crawford, DE/DT, Falcons. Age: 31. -- Signed with Titans
- Nick Dzubnar, LB, Chargers. Age: 29. -- Signed with Titans
Tennessee Titans Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans. Age: 26.
Franchised by Titans
Derrick Henry tends to start slowly, but he eventually turns into a runaway freight train. He was the league's leading rusher in 2019. The only downside with him is that he doesn't have great receiving ability.
Jack Conklin, OT, Titans. Age: 26.
Signed with Browns (3 years, $42 million)
Jack Conklin bounced back from an injury-ravaged 2018 campaign to become one of the league's better right tackles in 2019. He can improve upon his pass protection, but he's a dominant run blocker.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Age: 32.
Re-signed with Titans (4 years, $118 million)
It took Ryan Tannehill a while, but he finally blossomed into the quarterback the Dolphins thought they were getting when they selected him eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. In 11 starts, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He completed 70 percent of his passes on a 9.6 YPA, and he was also a threat on the ground.
Ryan Succop, K, Titans. Age: 33.
Ryan Succop missed half the 2019 season. When he returned, he hit just one of his six field goal attempts and then was placed on injured reserve. Succop's knee should be healthy heading into 2020, so he would be make for a nice, buy-low kicker signing. Succop hadn't been worse than 83.3 percent in a year since 2013, so he could easily rebound.
Logan Ryan, CB, Titans. Age: 29.
Logan Ryan has been a solid, but unspectacular slot cornerback for the Titans over the past few seasons. He has missed just three games in his career.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans. Age: 26.
Signed with Raiders
Marcus Mariota failed in Tennessee, but he's still young (27 in October) and talented enough to have successful elsewhere. Some team will give him another chance, and Mariota could succeed if the scheme is friendly for him.
Dennis Kelly, OT, Titans. Age: 30.
Re-signed with Titans (3 years, $21 million)
Dennis Kelly has been one of the better backup tackles in recent years. He can start for another team.
Kamalei Correa, LB, Titans. Age: 26.
Re-signed with Titans (1 year)
Kamalei Correa is a well-rounded linebacker who can play both outside and inside in 3-4 formations.
Cameron Wake, DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 38.
Cameron Wake turned 38 this offseason, so he doesn't have much time remaining in the league. However, he was an effective pass rusher last year while playing 20 or so snaps per game. He could thrive in the same sort of role for his next team.
Wesley Woodyard, LB, Titans. Age: 34.
Wesley Woodyard used to be a terrific linebacker in all facets. He's still stout versus the run, but he's been getting abused in coverage. This is not a surprise, given his age (34 in July).
Delanie Walker, TE, Titans. Age: 36.
Delanie Walker has been a solid tight end for a very long time, but it appears as though the end is near for him. He turns 36 in August, and he has played just eight of 32 possible games over the past couple of seasons.
- Tramaine Brock, CB, Titans. Age: 32.
- Dion Lewis, RB, Titans. Age: 29. -- Signed with Giants
- Tye Smith, CB, Titans. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Titans
- Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans. Age: 26. -- Signed with Vikings (1 year)
- Austin Johnson, DT, Titans. Age: 26. -- Signed with Giants
- Daren Bates, ILB, Titans. Age: 29.
- MyCole Pruitt, TE, Titans. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Titans
- Leshaun Sims, CB, Titans. Age: 26. -- Signed with Bengals
- Kevin Pamphile, OT, Titans. Age: 29.
- David Fluellen, RB, Titans. Age: 28.
- Chris Milton, CB, Titans. Age: 27.
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